Final Frontier - Iron Maiden

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Final Frontier - Iron Maiden

1 CD(s) - Heavy Metal - Label: EMI Music Distribution - Distributor: Discovery; EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Release...

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Review of "Final Frontier - Iron Maiden"

published 23/07/2013 | Jarisleif
Member since : 11/02/2012
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About me :
Ciao gone the same way as DooYoo. Time to depart, methinks.
Super
Pro Excellent songwriting
Cons Some track may be a little too long for some
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
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Lyrics

"Maiden's Final Frontier"

Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier (2010)

"The Final Frontier" is the 15th studio album by British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. It was released in 2010 on EMI Records and produced by Steve Harris & Kevin Shirley. The line-up for the album was Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Steve Harris (bass) and Nicko McBrain (drums).


Introduction

It had been four years since Maiden released "A Matter of Life and Death" until the release of this album, and the band entered the studio at the beginning of 2010 for seven weeks split between Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas and The Cave Studios in California to record what they hoped would be an album which would exceed its predecessor. "The Final Frontier" topped the charts in a staggering 28 countries. Iron Maiden has enjoyed the same line up since 1999, and the unity between the band has never been better, and won their first Grammy award in the Best Metal Performance for "El Dorado". Is it any good? Let's find out!


Satellite 15... the Final Frontier

The song comes in with an almost tribal beat with Nicko's drums commanding in an atmospheric presence and the guitars hitting very few chords to give the effect that something is not quite right with the story they are about to tell. The song is about the narrator facing his own final frontier, in that his death is near and he knows his time on this mortal coil is coming to an end. At over eight and a half minutes long it takes the song more than half of that to actually get going into a timely beat as it builds from what can be presumed as "Satellite 15..." into "The Final Frontier". It is strange why the band chose to do it this way but once it gets going it's a pretty decent song, and the sound of three guitars is excellent. Its only downfall is the chorus, but that has been a problem of Maiden's for some time now.


"I try to call the Earth's command
Desperation in my voice
I'm drifting way off course now
With very little choice"


El Dorado

Next up is a song about the corporate greed of banks and the fat cats who run them, though it is cleverly done so that it takes you on a journey of the days when pirates were rife on the High Seas. Throughout the song the narrator is saying how he has all these wonderful investments for you, but ultimately he's only interested in taking your money. In the end, the bank is ruined and the narrator sails away, completely getting away with his bad deeds. The song is Nicko's turn to shine as he performs drum fill after wicked drum fill, backed up by Harris' trademark bass sound. It is a gallop fest as far as the guitars are concerned, but that is something which is what Maiden has always done well.


"Greed, lust and angry pride
It's the same old, same old ride
The smoke and mirrors visions that you see are just like me
I'm a banker's face
With just a letter out of place
I know someone just like you knows someone just like me"


Mother of Mercy

The song begins with an almost Medieval melody that rolls off the acoustic guitars as Dickinson gives his best vocal performance yet on the album so far. Of course, there are a few parts where he does seem to strain a little, but he is not in his 20s anymore. This is a song that is reminiscent of Maiden's days in the late 80s and early 90s with some smooth flowing chords and a rocking beat that keeps the pace chugging along. This is the shortest song on the album but it definitely feels shorter than the five minutes plus that it actually is. It is a song about a mercenary who is contracted to fight a pointless war. He doesn't know what he is fighting for and it all ends in vain as he slumps down and awaits his impending death.


"You tell me what is certain but I'll tell you what is true.
You tell me what is honesty when all around is death and cruelty.
I'm making out, my mind is vile, I'm giving in to our desires.
Within the truth that lies within the only thing"


Coming Home

It is well documented that Bruce Dickinson is an avid pilot and has been known to fly for an airliner in his spare time, shuttling unsuspecting passengers to and from the UK for Astraeus Airlines. This is another song in which he depicts his love for the skies, following in the footsteps of "Aces High" and "Tailgunner". It is about how no matter how much Maiden goes on tour, they always look forward to coming home and playing gigs in the UK. The band has its own airplaine, Ed Force One, and Bruce is a regular pilot after he's been on-stage with the band. It is an excellent song which proves Iron Maiden is still at the forefront of heavy metal around the world. Dickinson puts a lot of effort into singing this one, which is not bad for a man of 51, as he was at the time.


"To Albion's land
Coming home when I see the runway lights
In the misty dawn the night is fading fast
Coming home, far away as their vapor trails align
Where I've been tonight, you know I will not stay"


The Alchemist

This is another fast-paced song which will have fans jumping for joy as the ears are treated to more sounds of 1980s Iron Maiden. It is packed full of energy which expertly pulls the listener in, and it even has a classic Maiden solo or two during the bridge, but what works the most is the structure and harmony of the song. "The Alchemist" is a song about John Dee, an English astronomer and occultist who was born in 1527. It is thought that Dee was a brilliant man but also quite eccentric, as he worked on a way to communicate with angels to learn how mankind was created.


"I was the keeper of the books
I had the knowledge of the scrolls
But now through ignorance and fear
I cast a shadow through the years"


Isle of Avalon

The song begins with a melody which sounds a little like the bridge on "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", from the album of the same name. It is a song about the legendary island where King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, was forged, and, according to folklore, where he was laid to rest. The track has some intricate time changes and some puzzling sections, but that does not stop it from being a solid Maiden number. The lyrics scream out from the speakers as Dickinson and company deliver something that every Maiden fan has been craving – a chorus that feels like the rest of the song was completely written around. There is, once again, some great guitar work from Murray, Smith and Gers, who are all expertly kept in time by McBrain and Harris.


"All my days I've waited for the sign
The one that brings me closer to the isle of Avalon
I can feel the power flowing through my veins
My heart is beating louder, close to Avalon"


Starblind

This song is about someone who has experienced life after death, and the impact it has had on his faith in Christianity. Here he explains that you have the right to choose whether you believe in a God or whether you want to live your life firm in the belief that there is nothing to look forward to after death. The narrator is basically saying that he has not been convinced by anything he has seen and that going to church every week does not guarantee that you will get a better afterlife. Musically, the song has a lot going for it but Iron Maiden does not do anything simple. Instead, the band members push themselves through each boundary they face and raise the bar higher every time. Dickinson's delivery of the vocals is set to an unusual melody, but the guitar progression is enigmatic as well.


"We can shed our skins and swim
Into the darkened void beyond
We will dance among the world
That orbit stars that aren't our sun"


The Talisman

The song has a slow two-minute plus intricate acoustic introduction played by Janick Gers that has Dickinson singing softly over the top of the guitars. Much like the album's opening track this is another song of two parts, as the power chords kick in and Bruce's powerful vocals are stretched as almost poetic words spew forth from his bursting lungs. It is a number about someone who is trying his best to achieve his goal but his struggle is great, and he is trying to find the will to succeed. His steadfastness is wavering but his will to succeed is still in his mind. Lyrically, it suggests that it is about sailing during the pirate days, but the hidden meaning is great once you understand its true purpose.


"Twenty days without a meal
And ten without fresh water still
Those that didn't die in storms
The scurvy rest did slaughter"


The Man Who Would be King

This track begins with an intro that sounds a little like "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" in parts of the chord progression. It is a song loosely based on the 1888 short story of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, which is about adventurers in a remote part of British India who become kings of Kafiristan. Musically, this track has some of the best guitar work on the album with some telling solo riffs that carry the song forward, charging into verses and choruses. If there had to be criticism, it is that it's another track which begins with a slow intro, and you can only have too much of a good thing. The song may well have been better had it been a minute or two shorter than the eight and a half it is.


"He is running from his wildest thoughts
He is running from his everything
He is looking now to find something
Hoping he could be saved"


When the Wild Wind Blows

To finish the album out comes an eleven-minute song of epic proportions. The track begins with the sound of a calm yet bustling wind and another Maiden acoustic intro. However, this is a good thing, because it is integral to the structure of the song and the progression of the lyrical content. It is loosely based on the 1982 novel, "When the Wind Blows", by Raymond Briggs. In the novel, an elderly couple hear on the radio that a nuclear explosion is days away, so they decide to build a fallout shelter. They are eventually exposed to radiation and end up praying for death. In this lyrical version, the couple thought a nuclear attack was coming so they enter their shelter. Except it isn't Armageddon – it's just an earthquake – but the damage is already done and both of them have already taken their fatal dose of poison. The vocals of the song wrap around the melody in a great fashion, but it could be another track that is maybe too long, especially if it's played live.


"When they found them, had their arms wrapped around each other
Their tins of poison laying near by their clothes
The day they both mistook an earthquake for the fallout
Just another when the wild wind blows"


Summary

Gone are the days when Maiden put out an album with 3-5 minute powerhouse songs, having replaced the majority of those with 7-11 minute opuses. This is what happens when a band wants to progress, or when a band has done all it can and needs to branch out into something different. Maiden had to take that step to keep themselves interested, and that is what you get on the album. It is not an easy album to listen to, but it is definitely an enjoyable one that is packed full of great passages, solos and vocals.


Track Listing

1. Satellite 15... the Final Frontier
2. El Dorado
3. Mother of Mercy
4. Coming Home
5. The Alchemist
6. Isle of Avalon
7. Starblind
8. The Talisman
9. The Man Who Would be King
10. When the Wild Wind Blows

My rating: 8/10

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Comments on this review

  • wazza115 published 08/08/2013
    great!
  • emmad5689 published 05/08/2013
    Fantastic review x
  • sweetdaisy published 30/07/2013
    Fantastic review xx
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1 CD(s) - Heavy Metal - Label: EMI Music Distribution - Distributor: Discovery; EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 16/08/2010 - 5099964777221

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EAN: 5099964777221

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